For many students away from home for the first time, college marks the first time they begin shopping, cooking and eating for themselves. Figuring out how to prepare quick yet healthy meals on a budget can be a daunting task, and the allure of fast take-out food often leads to the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen.”
To help students figure out a healthy meal plan, Student Health Services has begun offering tours of the local Fresh Grocer supermarket. Registered dietician Nicole Patience leads students through the aisles, showing them how to read labels and discern portion sizes, to help them eat healthy while still being mindful of their tight finances.
“Before Fresh Grocer came to the area, most students had to rely on local drug stores or corner stores to get their foods, and those types of stores don’t always stock the healthiest options,” said Patience. “So when the grocery store opened, we wanted to try and find a way to connect it to the students.”
Patience says she designed the tours based on those given for patients who have suffered a heart attack or diabetes, but says she’s not aware of any that focus specifically on healthy eating on a budget.
“Another component that sets this apart is that students learn from each other during the tours,” she said. “I ask the group about how they prepare their foods, how they get their daily allotment of fruits and vegetables, and most of the time, the students pick up the discussion and run with it.”
At the beginning of the tour, students receive a worksheet that guides them to where certain dietary needs are in the store – produce, meats, cereal, snacks – and what the daily allotment of each is per day. In addition, the sheet gives students suggestions on how to prepare foods in a healthy way, and tips to save money.
“I wanted to work with the tastes and time constraints of students, so instead of eliminating the typical college foods — Ramen noodles, rice packets, Easy Mac — I want to work with them in terms of making them healthier,” said Patience.
Filed Under: Scientific Focus
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